Lewiston receives $30,000 from Disney for playground

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LEWISTON — The city announced Tuesday it will receive a $30,000 grant from The Walt Disney Co. for a universally accessible playground at Marcotte Park.

The project, considered the first in Maine, has been in the works for several years, but is expected to be completed this fall. 

Lewiston is one of 25 cities and parks and recreation agencies selected to receive funding nationwide, according to city officials. The Walt Disney Co., along with the National Recreation & Park Association, have a goal of providing a million children and families with “greater access to play.”

Maine Sen. Nate Libby, D-Lewiston, who has advocated for the project, said Tuesday, “This project has been years in the making, so on behalf of Lewiston area kids, we are so very thankful for this generous contribution and look forward to opening our playground later this year.”

Dottie Perham-Whittier, Lewiston’s community relations coordinator who has worked closely with Libby on the project, said: “At this playground, no one needs to watch from the sidelines, as all children — regardless of ability — can play side by side. We are also very proud that Lewiston will be the first city in Maine to have a universally accessible playground.” 

When the project got off the ground in 2012, it received funding from California-based Shane’s Inspiration, a nonprofit organization that helps build playgrounds that are accessible to all children, regardless of their physical ability.

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Perham-Whittier and city recreation officials worked with architects from Shane’s Inspiration to design the park based on the location. 

Marcotte Park is the triangle plot east of the Androscoggin Bank Colisee, where Jefferson, Caron and Birch streets meet.

The playground is said to be the first in New England.

According to the city, the funds from Disney were part of a national “Meet Me at the Park” program, where parks and recreation organizations across the country were invited to share their best ideas on increasing access to play spaces for children and families in their communities.

The National Recreation and Park Association is a nonprofit organization dedicated to ensuring all Americans have access to parks and recreation for health, conservation and social equity.

Plans for a universally accessible playground at Marcotte Park in Lewiston were shown during an event in December 2016. (Sun Journal file photo)

Lewiston received a $30,000 Walt Disney grant toward its universally accessible playground in Marcotte Park, expected to be completed this fall. (Sun Journal file photo)

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